AFTER less than four months in charge, Gary Neville has been sent packing by the Valencia hierarchy. An official announcement was made on March 30 but it is understood that fan abuse during the 2-0 defeat to Celta Vigo last week was the final straw.
Although ‘to Neville’ isn’t yet a verb in the Oxford English dictionary, it may soon enter the Spanish lexicon given our Gary managed to take a reputed club just five points off the coveted Champions League spots in December, and sink them to a mere six points above the relegation zone by March.
Valencia have won only three out of their 16 league matches under the Englishman’s thumb and were thrashed 7-0 by Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semi-final.
In other words this is hardly a shock dismissal. Neville was gallant in his reaction, releasing a statement that read:
“I would like to thank Valencia Football club, the fans, staff and the players…I would have liked to have continued the work I started but understand that we are in a results business and in the 28 games (W10, D7, L11) they have not been to my standards or to those which are required by this club.”
The former England and Manchester United defender was appointed by the Spanish club’s owner, billionaire Singaporean businessman Peter Lim as Valencia’s head coach, an interesting move given his lack of managerial pedigree.
Neville’s younger brother Phil was already on the paper pulp tycoon’s payroll as a coach and significant financial ties soon emerged between Lim and the so-called ‘Class of 92’, of which both brothers were a key part.
Those circumstances did not sit well with Valencia’s fanbase and Spanish members of the club’s hierarchy have been acknowledging discontent throughout Neville’s tenure, though not directly criticising Neville.
In the immediate future, Phil Neville will remain at the club as an assistant to the third head coach of the season, Pako Ayestaran, a Basque native who worked with Rafael Benitez at Liverpool.
Valencia will be hoping that he is the man to salvage their season while Gary Neville will surely continue his assistant role with the English national team.